Iowa men have historically enrolled in college at lower rates than women, but the education gap is widening, state data shows.
Why it matters: Men who choose to not pursue a college degree could face career and wage stagnation in the future, according to Iowa College Aid.
- Some studies show that obtaining a higher education leads to healthier and longer lives.
By the numbers: The number of male Iowa high school graduates who immediately enrolled in college dropped 7 percentage points between 2012 and 2019 (64.5% to 57.3%), according to Iowa Postsecondary Readiness Reports.
- The number of women who immediately enrolled after graduating high school dropped by only 3 percentage points — 74% in 2012 vs. 71.3% in 2019.
Filings for the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aka FAFSA, suggest the gap continued in the pandemic.
- 41% of Iowa men filed for FAFSA for that school year, in comparison to 57% of women. Student aid is often an early indicator of whether someone intends to attend college.
The big picture: Enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has been trending downward nationwide for nearly 10 years, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data.
- And college enrollment saw dramatic declines during the pandemic.
What they're saying: Men are more likely recruited to work right out of high school, especially in agricultural or trade jobs, said Meghan Oster of Iowa College Aid.
- While men may work in a trade and earn $40,000-$50,000 right out of high school, those salaries stagnate for workers without degrees, Oster said.
Between the lines: Studies have shown mentoring is a helpful push for men considering college, but those relationships suffered due to the pandemic.
- Plus, there are heightened concerns about college debt, particularly for low-income men and among Black and Latino communities.
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